What do you get when you mix red and yellow? Blue and red? Kids delight in this messy, hands-on, exciting finger paint color mixing activity.
This color mixing activity is IT
I’ve done color mixing demonstrations with kids at least one million times, and every time I model two colors mixing to make a new color, jaws hit the floor.
It is SUPER cool to watch yellow and red mix become orange!
It is FASCINATING to witness green and blue mix become teal!
A hands-on color mixing activity feels like magic
Color mixing is like having a magic trick in your back pocket and it always dazzles the audience.
And then when you tell the kids that they get to mix colors themselves?! Best. Day. Ever.
Other A+ color mixing activities:
- Color Mixing & Writing Bags – Mother Could
- Rainbow Color Mix Marble Painting – Kids’ Craft Room
- Walking Water Science Experiment – Coffee Cups and Crayons
- Paint – red, yellow, and blue
- White paper – the thicker the better
- Black marker
No, really. That’s it!
Let’s start mixing colors
- Invite your child to pick two colors of paint. When I first do this with the kids, I only let them choose from the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). Two primary colors mixed together makes a secondary color, so we don’t get muddy colors when they choose two options from the three provided.
- On the bottom of the child’s paper, write the colors they picked. For example, “yellow + blue.”
- I include this step because when the kids take their art home, their adults might look at it and just see a green paper. But, when they see the “yellow + blue” note at the bottom, it’s a conversation starter about how the piece was made.
- Invite your child to cup their hands together and squirt or pour the paint directly into their hands!
- Mix! Squish! As the kids mix the colors, it will drip onto the paper and the whole process is awesome. Invite them to rub their hands on their paper and mix the colors. As the colors mix, you’ll hear them name the new color they’re making – just like magic.
- Hang or lay the paper to dry.
To really understand color theory, invite your child to make another piece of art with two different colors! We want them to realize that not all two colors mixed together make the same color. For example, yellow + blue make green, but blue + red doesn’t make green.
What are good color combinations for mixing?
Technically, there are an infinite amount of colors that can be made. However, we first explore the basics when introducing color mixing to kids.
Very basic color theory looks like this:
Primary Colors: red, yellow, and blue
Secondary Colors: orange, green, and purple
Sometimes looking at the color wheel helps!
If you mix any two primary colors, you get a secondary color.
- Red (P) + yellow (P) = orange (S)
- Red (P) + blue (P) = purple (S)
- Blue (S) + yellow (P) = green (s)
When you look at two primary colors on the color wheel, the color in between them is the color you get when they’re mixed.
So cool, huh?!
Get a lot of paper ready because this one is a hit
I’m serious. Kids LOVE this activity! There is something special about holding two different colored paints in your hand and then squishing them together to make something new.
We do this activity at the beginning of every school year, but it’s something that we do many times during the year, too.
Fantastic color mixing books
There are so, so many children’s books about color mixing. Here are some of our faves that we reach for over and over again:
- Mix it Up – This book is all about color mixing, AND it’s interactive! There are parts of the story where the kids are invited to touch the pages to “mix” the colors, adding an extra fun element of interactivity.
- Mixed: A Colorful Story – This one is a FAVORITE of Miss Michelle’s and it’s easy to see why! Little spots of colors lived separate lives and then decided to mix together one day. Joyful, adorable, and the illustrations are so fun.
- Little Blue and Little Yellow – Two friends hug each other so tightly that they become a new color! Author/illustrator Leo Lionni created this book, and as a general rule of thumb, his books are classics.
Kick it up a notch
To add EXTRA fun and sensory goodness to this color mixing activity, you can also toss in a tactile material, such as rice, sand, or small beans.
We love adding a bowl of rainbow rice to the table for the kids to dip their hands into and then mix onto their papers. Now, instead of this just looking cool, it also feels cool!
With activities like this! The more they hear color words out loud (ex: “This is blue paint”) and have opportunities to interact with colors, the better their understanding of color words will be.
Oh, YES! Think of primary and secondary colors as the first and second layers of colors and know that the layers can go on and on and on…forever.
All of them. Preschoolers enjoy this, fifth graders enjoy this, eleventh graders enjoy this – there’s no age limit with Science!
You’ve GOT to try this color mixing activity!
Whether this is your first color mixing activity or your 7000th, this delightful “art meets science” activity is always a hoot.
What colors are you going to mix first?